THREE pilots who ran a mile for every British serviceman and woman killed in Afghanistan since 2001 were given a heroes’ welcome on their return to RAF Brize Norton by more than 300 colleagues.

Flight Lieutenants Rob Platt, 37, Tom Mountney, 31, and Graeme Hunt, 38, pictured, ran the equivalent of 17 marathons in 17 days for charity, covering a total of 453 miles between military bases around southern England.

They have so far raised almost £23,000 for a number of military and civilian charities, including Help for Heroes, Combat Stress and the John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation, after completing the challenge last Wednesday.

Flt Lt Platt said: “They had pretty much the whole station out to greet us as we were running up the final drag.

“It was very emotional and overwhelming.

“Over the course of 17 days we were in this bubble running around the country, so never envisaged coming back to that.”

The run was originally called the 444 Run when the idea was conceived but four more people died on operations before they set off and the Hercules pilots eventually ran 453 miles after five personnel from RAF Odiham died when their Lynx helicopter crashed in Afghanistan on Saturday, April 26.

Flt Lt Platt said: “It was particularly poignant that the number actually changed while we were running. We had only just left RAF Odiham that morning.”

They also visited Yeovilton, Poole, Stonehenge and the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst.

Flt Lt Platt, who returned to work as a flying instructor the day after finishing, battled through despite fracturing a toe.

He said: “I had to make a difficult decision but carried on quite happily with a few painkillers.”